All Roads Lead to Paul Miller
The 2011 Subaru Outback is a top choice for when coping with nature's fury. It's a superb vehicle on dirt and gravel roads, in the snow, heavy rain, anything that calls of traction and sure-footedness.
The Subaru Outback, now in the second year of its fourth generation, was a unique sport/utility wagon when it was launched 15 years ago. The Outback is a unibody, all-wheel-drive crossover vehicle made in Lafayette, Indiana. Outback was redesigned for the 2010 model year, and there are no significant changes for 2011.
Subaru vehicles address utility as a form of luxury, based on the idea that a functional tool is a thing of beauty. With the Outback, there is the assumption of active outdoor use.
The Outback suspension, transmission and all-wheel-drive system are geared for control, comfort and stability on gravel roads and in inclement weather. All Subarus are all-wheel drive, aiming for sure handling and traction in marginal conditions. That may explain why they are most popular in the New England region, the Pacific Northwest, and mountain states. The engines feature horizontally opposed pistons, the so-called boxer layout that Porsche also uses. This results in strong torque for accelerating up hills while helping maintain a low center of gravity for improved handling.
We found the Outback to be an exceptionally capable car on unpaved forest roads. Extensive driving on Montana's back roads revealed that its tough, supple suspension could handle rough roads, and its superb all-wheel-drive performed well in all sorts of slippery conditions. Out on the open highway the Outback is smooth and comfortable and feels like a regular car.
We also drove it for one week of nasty Pacific Northwest winter, and it gave us a sense of security like few cars can. Confidence that with the Outback under us, we could breeze through whatever weather we were dealt.
Two engines are available, balancing efficiency and performance. Best government-rated fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 22/29 mpg City/Highway for the 170-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder with the continuously variable transmission (CVT). For maximum performance, a 256-hp 3.6-liter six-cylinder is available, mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. Neither engine uses forced induction or turbocharging to achieve its rated output, and both run on regular unleaded fuel.
Four-wheel independent suspension is standard. The revised rear suspension for 2010 incorporates a double-wishbone design, which delivers a smoother ride and enables a larger rear cargo area.
The Outback emphasizes cargo carrying, with large doors that swing open wide, and good interior dimensions for cargo room.
Possibly because the Outback is not exactly like anything else on the market, Subaru reports very high owner loyalty. More than 800,000 Outbacks have been sold since they were introduced.
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